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In the Golf/Puzzle Lab, I came up with an idea to create a Pokemon Emerald Battle Factory KotH. However, I had some concerns on the legality.

The closest thing I could find from Nintendo is the IP Requests and Game Submission Ideas:

We appreciate the interest in Nintendo and in all our video game products. To us, it represents a great sign of success and recognition of the Nintendo brand.

"Nintendo" is a registered trademark of Nintendo of America Inc. Nintendo owns extensive intellectual property rights in all of its products, including video game systems, game titles, characters, game software, graphics, artwork, and screen shots. Nintendo also retains rights in content on Nintendo's web sites, including articles, artwork, screen shots and other files. Trademarks and copyrights for third-party games and characters are owned by the companies that market or license those products.

While we are grateful for all the requests for permission to use Nintendo properties, we are not able to grant such requests. We receive thousands of requests and we do not have adequate staffing to review them all. Therefore, our general policy is to decline requests for permission for the use of Nintendo properties.

Although we are not able to grant permission, use of Nintendo's properties without formal permission by Nintendo may still be allowed under the relevant laws of the particular jurisdiction involved. Thus, we encourage you to seek your own legal counsel if you have any questions about whether your particular proposed use is permitted without Nintendo's authorization. Nintendo cannot provide legal advice.

We appreciate your support.

(emphasis added)

So it appears that this challenge idea would not be legal. However, it seems that the page is talking about spinoff games, not programming contests.

Would such a challenge be legal?


From what I understand, it would be legal if there is enough difference. What is enough difference? If I simply changed every Pokemon name, sprite, move, etc, but left the formulas / game mechanics the same, would this be different enough?


This led me to think about some other challenges. My most recent challenge, May the 4th be with you!, is clearly based off of Star Wars. Star Wars has its own Copyright and Trademarks, so should I have looked at those before posting that challenge? Is it even legal?

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    \$\begingroup\$ There are Pokemon questions on here already. I really doubt you'd get in trouble, because it's not really a "work". If this were illegal, then so would just talking about Pokemon online. Obviously it's a different matter if you build a whole site around it and start advertising but it's just a post on a forum. IANAL but there is such a thing as being too paranoid. \$\endgroup\$ – marinus May 20 '14 at 9:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @marinus There is something called the law. I'd prefer it if the law didn't have to come in and ruin the fun after putting in all the effort it would take to write this control program (this one would be particularly hard). \$\endgroup\$ – Justin May 21 '14 at 3:16
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As someone who has had a Pokemon-related application removed from distribution channels due to a DMCA compaint, I can confirm that Nintendo is very protective of their IP.

That said, their complaint was very specific, and the alleged infringement was over the use of their copyrighted names (Bulbasaur, Charmander, etc). I also believe other forces were at play. The complaint did not come until I had a 500k userbase, and only for this particular mobile app (which was not much different than, say, the Bulbapedia or PokemonDB websites). The timing also coincided with the news of their release of a mobile Pokedex-type app, so odds are they just wanted to clear the field. I didn't bother fighting it, for obvious reasons.

All that is to say, they probably won't hassle you. Your situation is vastly different than mine was, and I doubt they are looking to move into to the PP&CG challenge market. Using Pokemon as a basis for a challenge is something they most likely won't waste the time to pursue, even if it happens to come across their radar. If things like Pokemon Tower Defense and Deluge RPG have been around for years, then I doubt you have anything to worry about.

Of course, that assumes they are being logical about things. If you're still worried, then just change some stuff around. IANAL, but I think if you keep it generic, you have no cause for concern. Game mechanics aren't exactly patentable, but trademark/IP concerns still exist (see Scrabulous/Lexulous history). By changing the names of the assets, altering the mechanics a bit, and not using the "P" word, you shouldn't have anything to worry about, no matter how frisky the attorneys get.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ And remember, de minimis non curat lex. \$\endgroup\$ – SuperJedi224 Aug 4 '15 at 12:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SuperJedi224 Keep in mind that courts don't always follow this maxim where intellectual property is concerned. See Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. Dimension Films, for example. \$\endgroup\$ – Geobits Aug 4 '15 at 13:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, that is a bit of a problem \$\endgroup\$ – SuperJedi224 Aug 4 '15 at 13:15

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